Meet Our Staff

Mara Gross, Interim Executive Director (she/her/hers) Portland, OR

Mara joined PSR in November 2023 as the Interim Executive Director. Mara has worked for twenty years in organizational strategy and advocacy. She focuses on building strong, authentic relationships to help mission-driven organizations advance programs and policy for social and environmental justice. This is her fifth ED role, and her fourth in an interim capacity. 


Samantha_Hernandez_photo_(compressed_for_website__cropped).jpegSamantha Hernandez, Climate Justice Organizer (she/her/hers) Portland, OR

Samantha joined Oregon PSR’s staff in May of 2021 as our Climate Justice Organizer. Her efforts are focused on supporting campaigns and coalitions advocating for climate justice and a just transition to clean renewable energy for all. Samantha works to support coalitions such as Stand Up To Oil, Power Past Fracked Gas, Pacific Northwest Forest Climate Alliance, and the Oregon Just Transition Alliance. She graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a bachelor’s degree in hispanic studies and environmental studies. After Miami, Samantha considers Portland to be a second home. The enriching friendships she has made while interning at local organizations like Portland Harbor Community Coalition, Portland VOZ, and Growing Gardens has greatly informed her perspectives on the importance of frontline community-led action and intersectional environmentalism.

Samantha_Hernandez_photo_(compressed_for_website__cropped).jpegPaulina Durham, Clean Air Organizer (she/her/hers) Portland, OR

Paulina joined Oregon PSR in the summer of 2023 as our Clean Air Organizer. Originally from the Chicago area, Paulina found her new home in Oregon where she attended college in Portland. Paulina comes to Oregon PSR with experience in confidential advocacy for survivors of sexual assault, community organizing, campaigning, and legislative work. She graduated from Reed College with a B.A. in Political Science, and a thesis entitled Survivor Erasure: The Failings of Campus Sexual Assault Policy. Paulina is most passionate about utilizing policy and expanding issue awareness to foster meaningful, just, and community-driven change for the better. As Clean Air Organizer, Paulina is excited to focus on holding Oregon’s only large waste incinerator accountable while championing a zero-waste solution.

JessJess Gasper Jr., Membership Manager, (he/him/his) Salem, OR

Jess has served as President of the Oregon Marshallese Community, Member of the state's Health PartnerSHIP Committee, Financial Task Force for the City of Salem, Advisory Member of Higher Education, and Executive Member of Oregon Pacific Islanders Coalition. Before he joined OMCA in 2018, Jess co-founded an Advocacy Group-- the Oregon Bikini Organization-- which advocates for victims of the nuclear tests done in the Marshall Islands from 1946-1958. Jess himself is Bikinian, and has dedicated the last 5 years of his life to bringing to light the injustice of the Marshall Islands, and the struggles of Marshallese living in the United States. Jess comes from the Insurance and Financial Industry, owning an insurance agency for over a decade prior to community organizing and working in non-profits. Jess lives in Salem with his wife Philma, 3 kids, and puppy Ava. His oldest will be attending Oregon State University this fall. 

Anna_photo.jpgAnna Kahler, Communications Manager, (she/her/hers) Portland, OR

Anna (like sauna) joined Oregon PSR in the summer of 2022 as the communications manager. As a deep nerd she has a love for learning new information and sharing her favorite facts with anyone who will listen. She is excited to support the amazing work Oregon PSR does and amplify their messaging to a broader audience. Anna comes to PSR with 7 years of experience in community organizing in Chicago, IL and Portland, OR. Her organizing work is always centered around community members as she finds great joy in uplifting others and bringing people together to create change. Anna graduated from Lewis and Clark College with a degree in Art History and Political Economy. She finds the visual expression of movements for change to be infinitely fascinating and is excited to apply her knowledge and skills to OPSR’s communication campaigns. 

Samantha_Paladini_headshot.jpgSamantha Paladini, Program Assistant, (she/her/hers) Portland, OR

Samantha joined Oregon PSR in the summer of 2023 as the Program Assistant through Quaker Voluntary Service, a yearlong fellowship based around social justice and intentional community. Sam graduated into the pandemic from Whittier College, CA after studying English and Theatre. She spent time as a mentor for students with disabilities, stage manager, and artist’s assistant before she moved to Boston, MA for her first year with QVS. Sam worked in climate adaptation as the Climate Resilience Hubs Program Coordinator with Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW) through the nonprofit Better Future Project. Samantha is looking forward to continuing her work in climate justice and connecting with Portland’s community to actively bring about equitable change.